International Women’s Day in Wales: Overcoming barriers in male dominated sectors

The unveiling of the Frances Hoggan Purple Plaque

Written by Bobby Kelly

March 8, 2023

Minister for Social Justice in Wales, Jane Hutt has said, “We must support women to fulfil their potential whatever their career ambitions” as she underlined the Welsh Government’s commitment to improving gender equality.

Over the last week the Minister also commemorated the lives of two Welsh women awarded Purple Plaques after fighting tirelessly for girls to study medicine and for gender equality in Wales.

The Minister said the success of female-led projects as part of the Wales and Africa programme showed exactly what could be achieved with the right support. Wales and Africa funds and builds projects that support learning, the exchange of skills, joint working and tackling climate change.

These include projects supporting vulnerable Ugandan girls back into education, helping widows and married women into beekeeping in northern Uganda, and tree planting to help women into natural resources management.

The Minister said: “In Wales we will always continue to look to other countries to help us better understand our own role in the world.”

Last Friday the Minister unveiled a Purple Plaque in Brecon to commemorate the life of Frances Hoggan, who was born in 1843 and faced huge challenges to study and practice medicine as a woman in a male-dominated world, becoming only the second woman in Europe to be awarded a Medical Doctorate at just 26 years old.

The Minister also celebrated the life of former politician and equalities campaigner Val Feld, who was the first woman in the UK to have a purple plaque commemorated in her honour at the Senedd in 2018. Val Feld, who was also previously director of the Equal Opportunities Commission for Wales and Shelter Cymru, campaigned to give a voice to women and minority groups throughout her political life.

The Minister added: “Frances never forgot her roots and campaigned for education for girls in Wales. I am sure she would have approved of the work we are doing to encourage girls and young women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – STEM

Val was a champion for equalities and social justice, leading the way for others to follow in her footsteps, and it was a pleasure to work alongside her.”